Academy awards 2019

Presentation of the 2019 Awards of the International Life Cycle Academy

Award speech by ILCA president Bo Weidema
September 2nd 2019 at LCM 2019

The Awards of the International Life Cycle Academy are given to honour contributions of outstanding quality, within the last two years, within the field of quantitative sustainability assessment. Equal weight is given to scientific content and application/communication.

This year, 22 papers were nominated in three categories:

  • Best contribution to policy application of LCA
  • Best contribution to sustainable consumption
  • Best contribution to sustainable production

The full references to the nominated papers can be found here.

Besides the honour, the winners of this year’s Academy Awards receive the offer to publish their next article as free open access in a special issue of the MDPI journal “Resources”.

I would like to also acknowledge the Academy Award Committee, which has had the difficult task to select the three Award winners:

  • Prof. Harro Von Blottnitz, University of Cape Town
  • Prof. Greg Thoma, University of Arkansas
  • Prof. Shabbir Gheewala, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi
  • Prof. Bo Weidema, Aalborg University

Best contribution to policy application of LCA

In the category best contribution to policy application of LCA, we have 12 nominations, on topics ranging from technology choice modelling, measuring and communicating canteen meals, and the same for waste prevention, over LCAs of emerging technologies, shale gas, and integration of batteries into electricity supply systems, to topics within impact assessment, testing methods for the assessment of noise, improved characterisation factors for biodiversity, and an article on sub-national normalisation factors.

One paper that stands out from the others, is a study by Brad Ridoutt and colleagues on water footprinting involving the use of very detailed IO tables and applying a novel LCIA procedure, where the impact assessment is performed at the level of each unit process, which is then added up over the life cycle.

Another paper that has a very clear policy focus investigates how LCA can be used to adjust the biases in the current policies on impacts from automobiles that focus exclusively on use phase of cars. Because of its very detailed treatment and clear policy focus the Award Committee unanimously decided that the award must go to the first author of this paper: Annekatrin Lehmann from the Technical University of Berlin.

Best contribution to sustainable consumption

In the category best contribution to sustainable consumption we have 9 nominations, including one with a consumption-perspective of cities in China, and also the above-mentioned article by Ridoutt and colleagues, which is also nominated in this category (a paper was allowed to be nominated in up to two categories). All other nominations have food and food waste as topic. And within this group, five nominated articles have an overall diet perspective, and two consider the integration of health impacts from malnutrition – a very important aspect of sustainable consumption.

Among these nominations, the contribution unanimously chosen by the Award Committee describes a practically applicable method for linking individual food items to changes in dietary health risk, measured in Disability- Adjusted Life-Years. The Award winner is Katerina S. Stylianou from the University of Michigan.

Best contribution to sustainable production

In the category best contribution to sustainable production, we have 8 nominations, three of which are already mentioned, since they were also nominated for the category on policy applications. New in this category are an LCA on carbon capture in the chemical industry, a study that seeks to link land use to undernutrition, and an article that asserts that hybrid LCA yields more accurate results than process-LCA.

In this category, the Award Committee ended up with two papers that received the same number of votes: One, a paper by Maartje Sevenster and co- authors on soil organic carbon changes, with important findings on the uncertainty when applied to LCA of agricultural products; the other, a meta- study on the environmental impact of foods, published in Science last year. Its evidence for the importance of dietary change has already resounded widely. The final argument that allowed us to reach a decision was the exceptional importance that this article has for the recognition of LCA as a technique with important practical applications and perspectives. The award goes to Joseph Poore from University of Oxford.

The articles that were selected for 2019 awards

Lehmann A, Berger M, Finkbeiner M.: Life Cycle Based CO2 Emission Credits: Options for Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Current Tailpipe Emissions Regulation in the Automotive Industry. Journal of Industrial Ecology 22:1066-1079.

Stylianou K, Fulgoni V L, Jolliet O: HEalth Nutritional Index (HENI): A Health Burden Based Tool for Food and Diet Nutritional Evaluation. Presentation at LCAFood 2018. Also published as Chapter 3 in Ph.D. Thesis of Katerina Stylianou (Nutritional and Environmental Impacts of Foods on Human Health) at

Poore J, Nemecek T.: Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science 01 Jun 2018:987-992.